Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 47 - 2004

 

Greece insists on position regarding ship-source pollution

---BRUSSELS (ANA/A.Simatos) - Greece, Cyprus and Malta reiterated their objections to certain parts of an EU Directive on Criminal Sanctions for Ship-Source Pollution, during the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting held here on Friday.
Specifically, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyannis, who represented Greece at the EU council, said immediately after the meeting that Greece insists on its positions and does not want measures criminialising seafarers to be adopted. "During this council, the positions of Greece, Cyprus and Malta were better understood. We are asking for time in order to discuss all these issues and in the end I think that a solution acceptable to all sides can be found," Kefaloyannis said.
The Greek minister emphasised that Greece's objections do not pertain to the 'spirit' of the legislative framework proposed by the European Commission, but to the way it will be applied and especially regarding the proposed sanctions against seafarers in case of an accident that results in ocean/sea pollution.
Kefaloyannis stressed that Greece's aim is to protect the interests of Greek seafaring professionals and of Greek commercial shipping, as well as protecting the environment. Greece, Kefaloyannis reminded his audience, has the strictest environmental laws in force in Europe. Greece does not want the decision regarding the directive to result in ships abandoning the Greek flag for flags of convenience nor the reduction of the number of Greek professionals employed in shipping, which would inevitably follow.
Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, who presided over the meeting, said that "we will try to reach an operational compromise" adding that the issue will be re-examined at the next council meeting on December 2-3.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, 19 Nov 04


Shipping and EU transfers lower 9-month C/A deficit
---Shipping, European Union investment subsidies and a slight rise in exports accounted for a significant improvement in Greece's current account deficit in the nine months to September, which declined 40.83 percent to 2.93 billion euros from 5.01 billion in the respective 2003 period.
According to Bank of Greece data, foreign currency receipts from shipping were 42.2 percent higher at 9.85 billion euros, while EU receipts were up 25.04 percent, year-on-year, after many months of lackluster performance. The improving trend was indicated by a current account surplus in September 2004, which contrasted with a deficit in the corresponding month of the previous two years.
The overall positive developments in the nine months accounted for a substantial rise in the services surplus and, secondarily, an increase in the transfers surplus, which, taken together with a small decrease in the income account deficit, more than offset a strong rise in the trade deficit. Exports increased 12.81 percent and imports, which command a much larger volume, also rose 12.66 percent.
The trade deficit grew by 2.1 billion euros relative to the same period of 2003. Specifically, a 2.6-billion-euro (or 12.6 percent) increase in the non-oil import bill more than offset a 964-million-euro (or 13.5 percent) rise in non-oil export receipts, whereas the net oil import bill increased by 450 million euros.
The services surplus grew by 3.3 billion euros, mainly owing to the great rise (of 2.2 billion) in net transport receipts, mainly from shipping.
Finally, the 780-million-euro year-on-year growth of the transfers surplus is almost exclusively accounted for by a 1.03-billion-euro increase in general government receipts (mainly transfers from the EU), which far exceeded the 207-million-euro rise in general government payments (mainly to the EU).
In the January-September period, non-residents' direct investment in Greece reached 1.01 billion, while residents' direct investment abroad came to 386 million euros, resulting in a net inflow of 626 million in direct investment funds.
Over the same period, a substantial net inflow of 11.16 billion was recorded in the portfolio investment category, mainly reflecting inflows of non-residents' funds toward the purchase of Greek government bonds.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 20 Nov 04


Ferry operators report improved results
---The Athens Stock Exchange-listed Attica group and Crete-based Minoan Lines are both reporting much improved results for the first nine months of 2004, despite higher fuel prices and a decline in tourist numbers.
Attica staged its improvement despite a 5% shrinkage in group sales because of a smaller fleet. This year there were eight ships in the Superfast fleet, down from 10 last year.
Blue Star Maritime, the ASE-listed corporation in which Attica has a 48.6% stake, improved net profit in the 2004 nine months by 49% over the comparable period of last year after the company withdrew from the Venice route and improved capacity utilisation in the Dodecanese. Blue Star has also been consolidating its fleet.
Meanwhile, Attica is said to be scouring the s&p market for ro-ro ships of around 10 years old.
Though group chairman Pericles Panagopulos is tight lipped about plans, it is understood ships for international and domestic services are being sought. Attica announced its move into the pure ro-ro cargo trades with the recent acquisition of two ro-ro cargo ships in a deal done privately with Finnish operator, Bore. The 1991 Norwegian-built 5,972gt Bore Mari and the 7,395gt Bore Nordia, which will deliver in January, reportedly cost $20m.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 19 Nov 04


Greek coastguard rescued 120 illegal immigrants
---Greek coastguard vessels today guided a ship carrying 120 illegal immigrants to safety after the captain issued a distress signal while sailing in international waters off the Peloponese, officials said.
The merchant marine ministry said the ship had probably left Egypt on its way to Europe but ran into mechanical problems and was guided to the port of Katakolo on the western Peloponese.
''The 120 illegal immigrants are now disembarking and with the presence of a prosecutor the coastguard officers will arrest the crew for illegally transporting people,'' it said in a statement.
The ministry, which had been tracking the vessel for two days, did not give any details on the nationality of the migrants and the crew or the flag of the ship.
Greece has seen a sharp rise in illegal immigration over the past few years and has been enforcing tighter sea and land patrols to stop a growing flow of refugees into the country. (Reuters)
Source: www.deepikaglobal.com/, ATHENS, Nov 15, 2004


Aspropirgos refinery becomes operational again
The overhaul of Aspropirgos operations will negatively impact Hellenic Petroleum's Q4:04 results, despite the company's efforts to run higher oil stocks to compensate for the shutdown.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 12:56 - 19 November 2004


Mangouras allowed home, for a while
---THE master of the ill-fated tanker Prestige, who not been allowed to leave Spain for two years awaiting possible trial, can return home Greece for three months.
Now aged 68, Apostoulos Mangouras faces vague accusations of not obeying Spanish instructions and causing the loss of the vessel and subsequent oil spill.
The judgement by a Spanish court reverses previous indifference to vociferous international criticism and pleas for him to be allowed to leave.
Source: www.mgn.com, 17 Nov 04


Cook drowns as ship sinks
---Athens - Coastguards have rescued 11 crew of a Greek cargo ship that sank early on Friday a few kilometres off the Athens coast but the vessel's Greek cook was killed, officials said.
Three coastguard boats, one all-weather rescue helicopter and two fishing boats rushed to the area and recovered the Avantis III crew from a lifeboat, a spokesperson at Greece's merchant marine ministry said.
The body of the 36-year-old cook was later retrieved from the sea, the ministry said.
Nine locals and two non-Greek crew of the Avantis III were in good health and brought to the nearby island of Egina. The ship had been carrying ceramic roof tiles and other building materials from the western Greek town of Mesolongi to Cyprus.
Investigators said the ship probably hit a rock off Egina. Weather conditions in the area were good at the time of the accident with moderate winds.
The ship had crossed the nearby Corinth Canal before sinking.
Edited by Andrea Botha
Source: www.news24.com,19/11/2004 10:48 - (SA)


Georgiopoulos in $420M bulker deal
---GENCO, a new private company led by General Maritime chairman Peter Georgiopoulos, has purchased the bulk carrier fleet of China's Cofco. A Genmar spokesman confirmed the deal to Fairplay, while noting that the company was not itself involved in the transaction. Genco Shipping & Trading, a group of private investors led by Georgiopoulos, purchased 16 bulk carriers for $420M from China National Cereals, Oil and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corp (Cofco), as well as Cofco's shipmanagement arm, Top Glory Shipping in Hong Kong. Genco's new 780,000dwt fleet comprises of five Handysize, six Handymax and five Panamax ships. The deal represented "a very rare opportunity to buy a fleet of high quality, modern bulk carriers, which are in great demand at present," Georgiopoulos is reported to have said, adding that the Cofco ships are just the beginning of "what we expect will become a large and growing bulk carrier operation".
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, 15:20 19 Nov


Stelios plays chicken with Fortress
---It seems like weeks since we sat among many friends in the dimly lit, standing room only shareholders meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York and listened to investors berate Stelmar's board of directors while major shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou ridiculed management in an adjoining room and called for resignations. We say it seems like weeks since the meeting because of the great amount of action since the rejection of Fortress' $40 offer on Tuesday.
Is Stelios driving a hard bargain for Stelmar, or did he simply overplay his hand and give Fortress an easy way out of a top-of-the-market acquisition and a $6 million break fee for the pleasure of doing so? In reality, it makes no difference for most investors because major original holders like Neuberger and Fidelity have already sold most of their positions and the current holders, a "who's who" of arbitrage funds, can just sell out any time they want since the stock has been trading over the $40 offer price all week. So if everyone could sell out at above the Fortress offer, what was the point of having a vote? Clearly by the time the moment came to vote, the market had already moved away from the deal believing the stock will go higher.
The people who voted against the deal are the more interesting group. They are the same people who have bid the stock up to $41.98 today - the people who think a bid will come in excess of $42 or that the stock will go higher in open market trading. It is truly a dangerous game to play at this point in the tanker cycle, and OMI's public statement today that the company has no interest in buying the Stelmar they put in play is not helpful. Who is in the wings with an offer that could prove both Stelios and the arb funds right? Perhaps Torm, but more likely, if the stock moves higher, it will do so with its peers thanks to good old earnings and positive fundamentals.
To be sure: Stelios has had some of his demands accommodated, Stamatis Molaris has resigned, the company has agreed to permit four former bidders to make a fresh offer for the company, and Stelios has been appointed to head a panel to explore strategic alternatives. But there are still some items left to go: Stelios has said he will not join the panel unless Peter Goodfellow and Nick Hartley step down, which has not yet happened.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, 18 Nov 2004


Onassis hits the spot
---In the spirit of founder Aristotle Onassis, Olympic is raking in the rewards of a savvy market strategy.
The Onassis group's recent chartering practice of placing most of its fleet of tankers on the spot market is paying off handsomely.
Ten of the 13 tankers managed by the Onassis group's Olympic Shipping and Management are currently working on the spot market and benefiting from the highest rates in years.
In the most recent spot fixture, the 309,000-dwt tanker Olympic Legend (built 2003) was reportedly fixed by Tupras a few weeks ago at World Scale (WS) 257.5, or around $175,000 per day, to transport crude oil from Iran to Egypt.
In the three months before this latest fixture the ship had average earnings of over $100,000 per day, according to sources close to the company.
The rates are especially lucrative when seen against the background of the company paying about $75m in 2001 for the ship in a resale deal with LMZ Transoil.
The Olympic Legend is one of two VLCCs bought from Transoil. Its sistership, the 309,000-dwt Olympic Liberty (built 2003), is one of the few vessels Onassis has on long-term time charter. It has been fixed to Exxon-Mobil for 10 years starting in February 2003 at just above $30,000 per day.
Olympic controls five VLCCs, only two of which are on long-term charter. The other VLCC not on the spot market is the 308,000-dwt Hawk (built 2000), which is also chartered to Exxon-Mobil at market rates. MarCare Shipping Co, a joint venture between Peter J Goulandris, Onassis interests and Exxon-Mobil, controls this tanker.
Even though the Olympic Liberty is not earning the astronomical sums it could have achieved on the spot market, it represents a timely investment. The two VLCCs plus two recently delivered suezmax newbuildings cost the operator about $250m-a bargain in today's climate.
The company's 302,000-dwt tanker Olympic Legacy (built 1996) is currently earning between $150,000 and $200,000 per day, nearly twice as much as it did in mid-July. CSSSA had fixed the tanker at WS 112, or around $70,000 per day from the Middle East Gulf to the UK continent at the time.
As with the VLCCs, Olympic has split two of its newest suezmax additions to its fleet between the two charter markets.
The 156,000-dwt Olympic Future (built 2004) has been working on the spot market since its delivery from Japan's Namura Shipbuilding in August. Sources say the tanker is currently on a fixture to Trafigura from the Middle East Gulf to China at WS 220, or around $60,000 per day.
The 155,000-dwt tanker Olympic Flag (built 2004), delivered soon after the Olympic Future from the same yard, has been fixed by Sun Oil for up to seven years at an undisclosed rate.
The company's other two suezmax tankers and four aframax tankers are working the spot market. One of the latest fixtures was for the 96,000-dwt tanker Olympic Serenity (built 1991), working Singapore to Italy at $37,000 per day. Earlier, it was with Exxon-Mobil at WS 200 from the Red Sea to Singapore on a fixture that works out to be around the same daily rate.
Olympic also controls six bulkers, five of which are handysize Lakers on three-year long-term charters. The 64,000-dwt bulker Olympic Galaxy (built 1982) is employed in the spot market.
Source: By Yiota Gousas, Athens, published: 19 November 2004


Excel Maritime announces agreement to acquire new vessel
---Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (AMEX:EXM), a shipping company specialising in the seaborne transportation of dry bulk cargoes, announced today that it has agreed to acquire a 39,697 Dwt, handymax bulk carrier, built in 1984 by Imambari Marugame shipyard in Japan. The vessel is expected to be delivered to Excel in December 2005, and deployed immediately in the market.
Christopher Georgakis, CEO of Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, said, "While we certainly cannot predict future rates or profitability, we believe that the timing on the acquisition of new vessels is good, because the Baltic Freight Index (BDI), which had eased lower during the summer to an average of 4027, has been more robust moving into the winter months and is now at 5107, as demand for dry bulk cargoes continues to be strong".
Last week the Company acquired a 37,687 Dwt, handymax bulk carrier, built in 1984 by Kanasashi shipyard in Japan which is expected to be delivered to Excel in January 2005.
Georgakis noted that the Company will continue its strategy of purchasing selected second hand ships while simultaneously disposing of older tonnage and may consider the acquisition of additional vessels in the future.
About Excel Maritime
Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd, is an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargo. The company currently owns and operates a fleet of two Cape size bulk carriers, one Handymax bulkcarrier and tow Handysize bulk carriers with a total carrying capacity of 357,947 Dwt. The Company was incorporated in 1988 under the laws of Liberia.
For further information, please contact: Excel Maritime Carriers, Ltd; or Christopher Georgakis, CEO of Excel Maritime Carriers, Ltd, +30 210 45 98 692.
Source: http://www.mysan.de, PIRAEUS, Greece, Nov. 16, 2004


'Stellamare' to ply new waters
---Greek sea captain to buy ship that capsized last year, killing 3
ALBANY -- Capt. Alexander Saleh is a silver-haired Greek ship owner who names vessels for his daughter. Resemblances to Aristotle Onassis end there. Saleh's latest acquisition is no supertanker. It's a mud-coated cargo carrier with a broken rudder, debris-strewn hull and a tragic history.
Saleh plans to close his deal on the Stellamare today, bringing new life to the heavy lift vessel that capsized in the Hudson River last December, killing three Russian seamen and causing up to $30 million in damages.
"She's beautiful," said Saleh, who negotiated for months to buy the ship. "Don't look at it now. When it's done it will be worth $2 million." He would not disclose the purchase price.
On Dec. 9, ship workers had loaded one General Electric Co. generator onto the Stellamare and were loading a second when the vessel rolled suddenly to port and capsized in 35 water. Russian crewmen Sulieman Khasenevich, Yuri Akofin, and Victor Alexeev were trapped by debris and drowned after icy water flooded the ship's hold.
The generator, bound for Italy, was removed and scrapped, GE spokesman Tom Schwendler said. The second was rebuilt in Schenectady and shipped to Romania earlier this year, he said. An initial Coast Guard inquiry estimated cargo damage at $25 million and the ship damage at $2 million.
After an insurance carrier declared the 22-year-old vessel a constructive loss, Dutch owner Jumbo Shipping Company sold it in January for $125,000 to Herbert "Bart" Brake, who owns a small port in Bethlehem just south of the Port of Albany.
Brake and his partner Bill Welch, spent the winter rebuilding 70 electric motors and clearing the engine on the 22-year-old ship.
"She's a good old ship," said Welch. "She was very well built and maintained." Welch and Brake considered operating the vessel themselves under the U.S. flag, but found American crews too expensive for the labor-intensive ship.
They sold the ship as is, with its orange life jackets, maps and a coat of mud along the port side. The Stellamare was submerged in the Hudson River until Jan. 4.
Saleh found the ship through a deep-sea broker. He said Welch and Brake spent $300,000 on repairs. They sold the 70,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil in ship tanks, he said.
Saleh will tow the Stellamare to the Bahamas next week for repairs to the radio, rudder and anchor. In December, he and his Greek crew of eight plan to drink a glass of whiskey, christen the Nadalina S and depart for Gibraltar.
After a winter of more refitting in Greece, Saleh, 49, plans to use the ship to haul Romanian steel coil and Ukrainian lumber to Tunisia and Egypt. He may also haul oranges and potatoes from Egypt back to Romania, he said.
On Wednesday, Saleh strolled the deck of the Stellamare in his leather cap, smoking a Rothmans and meeting workers. He made his first sea journey at 14, hauling lemons from Cyprus to Turkey in his father's business.
This is his sixth ship. He said he also owns the 6,000-ton Sea Carrier, the Anna, the Alexander S and the Elizabeth.
Buying used vessels is part of the industry, Saleh said. Even Aristotle Onassis bought old ships. "See the steel, look how thick," he said, pointing to a heavy lift cranes. It just needs a face lift. "Like Joan Collins."
Already, the name Stellamare is painted over. Saleh said he'll keep the same colors of navy blue and dark red. "That's life," he added. "Life continue. It doesn't stand still."
Source: www.timesunion.com, By KATE GURNETT, Staff writer, First published: Thursday, November 18, 2004


Hill Taylor and Thomas Cooper in merger talks
---The London shipping firms Hill Taylor Dickinson and Thomas Cooper & Stibbard are understood to be in merger talks.
Shipping boutique Hill Taylor Dickinson was formed in 1989 when name partner Tim Taylor left Liverpool-based insurance specialist Hill Dickinson.
The firm, which currently numbers 26 partners with outposts in Piraeus and Dubai, acts primarily for P&I clubs, shipowners, oil companies and insurers.
However, the firm was hit by the departure of Taylor and fellow rated shipping partner Patrick Foss when the pair joined Barlow Lyde & Gilbert in 2003.
Thomas Cooper, which has 22 partners, has offices in Athens, Madrid, Singapore and Vancouver.
Insiders point to Thomas Cooper's client base - which includes oil giant Exxon - as a key attraction for Hill Taylor.
One senior London shipping partner said: "The shipping sector has been generally quiet in terms of litigation in recent times. The market is doing pretty well so disputes are going down and critical mass is becoming more important for shipping firms."
Source: Legal Week Reports, Author: Charlie Wright, Source: Legal Week, Start Date: 18/11/2004, End Date: 25/11/2004